One Day at San Diego Comic-Con International 2016…

We made it San Diego Comic-Con 2016! We stood in a really long line to get into the Convention Center at 9:30 AM. Turned out once we got to the front of the building, we could go in any door. Note to self for next year: Come right at 9:30 AM (if we’re not trying to get popular exclusives) and walk right in from the other side of the Convention Center without waiting in line!

We took the trolley into downtown. Usually, we don’t have San Diego Comic-Con badges so we have no reason to be in the areas that are in the pictures above.

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Pumpkins in July!

Our pumpkin harvest came early, so this post will be about all things pumpkin. We now have nineteen pumpkins to use! Our heaviest pumpkin was 4 pounds 11 ounces, and our lightest pumpkin weighed in at less than a pound at 12 ounces. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and roasted pumpkin seeds taste great any time of year, so hold on to your pumpkin heads because today is Pumpkin Saturday!

We started by having our older boys help with scooping out seeds from pumpkin halves. They didn’t mind scooping out seeds; it was the stringy parts they didn’t like! Josh would cut the pumpkin stem off, then cut the pumpkin in half. He brought the pumpkin halves out to the dining room so that the boys could scoop out the seeds into a large bowl and the
“goop” into another bowl. This operation was so huge that we literally took up every surface in our kitchen and the dining table to do it.

For pumpkin roasting and pumpkin seed prepping, we used a method from The Pioneer Woman.

After the boys scooped out the pumpkin seeds and “goop,” Josh roasted the halves in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. He roasted them as is, no olive oil or seasonings.

While the pumpkins were roasting, I did some quick Internet searches of recipes to try with the seeds and the pumpkin puree.

Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Clusters

Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Butter

I kept getting distracted during this search (OH, this looks good!) and after 45 minutes, it was my turn to help with the pumpkins!

I was in charge of scooping out the roasted pumpkin from the skins and pureeing it in a food processor. We don’t have a decent blender so a food processor it was! This was more fun than scooping out pumpkin seeds, and just look at that color! My first batch made us about 8 cups of pumpkin puree.

While I was taking care of the pumpkin puree, Josh was making all sorts of flavors of roasted pumpkin seeds!

Step 1: Clean the goop off the seeds! Josh did this by combining the seeds with water, mixing them around with his hand, and then skimming the seeds off the top with a metal slotted skimmer spoon into a colander.

Step 2: I believe at this point, Josh boiled the seeds for 10 minutes in salted water. I was probably busy at this moment with my pumpkin puree, so I didn’t get a picture of it.

Step 3: Dry the cleaned and boiled seeds on a dishcloth.

Then, Josh took the semi-dried seeds (they didn’t need to be dried all the way), mixed them in a bowl with seasonings, and put them on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. He roasted them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes total with an oven check every 5 minutes or so. He wanted to make sure they were the right texture and didn’t burn.

He went a little crazy with experimenting with flavors!

These are Maple-Sriracha Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from a cookbook I own called Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. These ended up being Josh and mine’s favorite flavor!

Here are some of the other flavors Josh came up with! My kids liked the plain old salt and pepper ones the best.

It took us half the day to roast 13 of our 19 pumpkins. In the next picture, you can tell my second boy, Thias, is about done with scooping out pumpkin guts!

This bowl of puree gave us 9 quart bags of 2 cups puree each!

I was able to make 2 loaves of cream cheese-filled pumpkin bread, but I’m not too happy with how they turned out! They taste good, but I don’t think they baked long enough.

One of the loaves of pumpkin bread

I have a favorite banana bread recipe from simplyrecipes that I might try to convert to a pumpkin bread recipe. Then, I’ll just whip up a cream cheese spread for it.

This was definitely a family activity! I don’t think it would have gone so smoothly if just Josh or just I had been roasting pumpkins. We will be reaping the benefits of our hard work for long time though so it was well worth the hard work!

And tonight, Josh is making us pumpkin pancakes for dinner!


Writing is Not Easy! And A Zucchini Race

This is a repost of our zucchini race experience last year at the San Diego County Fair. We will be participating again this Saturday!

Has it really been almost a month since I’ve written a real blog post? Yes, I think it has! I have many things to write about, but sometimes for me, Writing is Not Easy.

Neither is Waiting! Which it seems like we have been doing the past month as well.

But in the end, writing is rewarding. And in the end, waiting is rewarded as well.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

-Isaiah 40:31

A quick note about the book that I have pictured above. This book is part of a series of beginning reader books that I absolutely LOVE. It is geared toward toddlers and pre-kindergarten age, but even my 7-year-old and 9-year-old read them. They are fun and engaging and perfect for kids. They aren’t too long or too short. I am not a very dramatic person, but these books are easy for even me to read expressively. One of the more fun books to read aloud in this series is A Big Guy Took My Ball, and I get to talk like a whale. My 2-year-old’s favorite Elephant and Piggie book is Should I Share My Ice Cream? We borrow these books from the library, but I think we will eventually buy the whole series if possible.

Now, on to the real reason for this post! The San Diego County Fair (which is still The Del Mar Fair to those of us who have lived here a while) just wrapped up about a week ago. I had gone a few times as a teenager with my family, but Josh had never been until after we moved back to the San Diego area from his duty station in Washington, D.C. After much convincing, I was able to get Josh to take us to the fair for the first time as a family about 3 years ago. On that first trip, we stumbled across an event going on in one of the agricultural buildings: The annual Zucchini Race! It is basically a soapbox car race but the soapbox part is a zucchini instead of wood. Yes, it sounds odd and a little crazy, but it is a lot of fun!

Once we saw that event, Josh said that we needed to take part in it the next year. So we did. This year was our second year being in the race. And as usual, we had a great time! This is probably one of the best bargains for entrance to the fair as well. The entrance fee for each child is $5, and each child gets an extra ticket for an adult chaperone. My 2-year-old and 4-year-old enter for free, so the rest of us (5 of us) were able to get in for a total of $15. We also didn’t have to wait in line to get in to the fair. Since we were participating in an event, we entered through the vendor entrance.

The theme for the fair this year was a steampunk Alice in Wonderland. So Corran made a steampunk-themed zucchini car. Josh helps the boys every year with their zucchini cars.

Corran’s zucchini car had old scooter wheels, a wheel from a tool chest, a propeller, and a spring.

Matthias had some really interesting wheels on his car!

Whiffle balls for wheels? Why not?

Ian’s car used scooter wheels and soapbox car wheels.

Ian’s zucchini car looks unimposing, but this was one crazy car once it was on the ramp!

My boys’ zucchini racers along with some of the other zucchini racers all ready to go!

Here is one video of Corran’s race just to give you a taste of what it’s like!

Each racer receives a participation ribbon, a first or second place ribbon for their race, and a decoration ribbon.

Corran’s ribbons: First place in his race, the best fair-themed racer

Thias’ ribbons: First place in his race, the Mad Max ribbon

Ian’s ribbons: First place in his race (he was the only racer for his race because we knew his wouldn’t go straight! It actually fell off the ramp!), the catywampus racer ribbon

This year was Corran’s last year to be in the zucchini race, but next year, Rhys will be able to participate!

Josh knows more about how they actually built the racers. Maybe he will write a post about it at some point. After the race, we went and walked the rest of the fair! But that will be enough for another post!